Spinning Kashiwazaki

by HARVEY WASSERMAN

As you read this, swarms of extremely well-paid PR flacks are spinning the Kashiwazaki nuke quake into an argument for building more reactors. They will deploy utter absurdities and personal attacks, followed by the sound of media-complicit silence.

But the news coming from Japan—and not being covered here—makes it clear the realities of this latest reactor disaster are beyond catastrophic. Seven reactors were put at direct risk, with four forced into emergency shut-downs while suffering numerous fires and emitting unknown quantities of radiation. Most importantly, the quake exceeded the design capabilities of all Japan’s 55 reactors, and worse seismic shocks are expected.

To counter these inconvenient realities, expect to soon see more of Patrick Moore, the alleged ex-Greenpeace founder.

Moore has called the disaster at Three Mile Island a "success story." Moore claims to be a scientist. He’s obviously not an accountant.

His face stays straight while calling the transformation of a $900 million asset into a $2 billion liability a "success story." It testifies to a mentality that never saw a polluter’s check that couldn’t be cashed.

On January 28, 1986, I debated a spokeswoman from Cleveland Electric Illuminating who termed the earthquake fault near the Perry Nuclear Plant a "geologic anomaly."

As we spoke, the Challenger space shuttle blew up because NASA "scientists" said warnings from their own staff about O-rings in cold weather were not "compelling." The shuttle was shot off to coincide with a planned presidential performance by Ronald Reagan. Seven astronauts died while the whole world watched in horror.

Three days later, a non-anomalous earthquake cracked pipes and pumps at Perry, knocking out roads and bridges. Apparently, neither the O-rings nor the fault line had read the industry’s spin.

Today the nuke flacks say Kashiwazaki was a "success story" because four reactors SCRAMmed into emergency shutdown and three more were damaged, but no apocalypse resulted (yet).

Since this is only the world’s largest nuke complex, with only seven reactors on site, and only several hundred barrels of nuke waste tipped over, and far fewer had their lids fly off, and the gas emissions the utility lied about were only tritium, which is less deadly than plutonium, the fact that all of Japan was not engulfed in a catastrophic radiation release (yet) will be used to sell more reactors.

Expect phrases like these:

"The reactors withstood the worst nature could throw at them."

"The SCRAMs went off perfectly."

"The shut-downs will be temporary."

"American reactors are far stronger than Japanese ones."

"This was a once-in-a-century fluke, and no one was hurt."

"Even so, we must have nuke power to fight global warming."

"The media has distorted the utility’s good-faith attempts to inform the public."

"Those rad-waste barrels were tipped over by eco-terrorists."

"Tritium is good for you."

"Nuke power is a ‘zero emissions’ technology, therefore the reported leaks could not have occurred."

"Those anti-nuke so-called scientists have been discredited."

But most importantly, expect a tightly enforced media blackout.

It starts when all who question the industry are automatically "discredited."

Dr. John Gofman, universally acknowledged as one of the world’s leading nuclear and medical researchers, was once in charge of health research for the old Atomic Energy Commission. When asked to determine how many people would be killed by radioactive emissions from "normal" reactor operations, he found it would be about 32,000 Americans per year.

The AEC demanded he revise his findings. Gofman refused. So he was forced out of the AEC and "discredited" despite credentials that continue to dwarf those who replaced him.

The list of physicists, engineers, medical researchers and others similarly purged for fact-based reporting is too tragic to reconstruct here.

But it even includes a park ranger at the Pt. Reyes National Seashore who noticed in the spring of 1986 that the number of live bird births had plummeted compared with the previous ten springs. The only logical link was to radioactive fallout from Chernobyl, brought down by a California rainstorm ten days after the explosion.

The ranger soon found himself out of a job.

On the other hand, the industry still falsely asserts that no one died at Three Mile Island. It even produced a "doctor" who traveled through Europe asserting that the enormous radiation releases spewed by the explosion at Chernobyl would ultimately save lives.

Predictably, the Kashiwazaki catastrophe has disappeared from the American media. But in Japan, the news has transcended the truly horrifying.

According to Leo Lewis in The Times, talk is rampant of a "Genpatsu-shinsai," defined by Japan’s leading seismologist, Katsuhiko Shibashi, as "the combination of an earthquake and nuclear meltdown capable of destroying millions of lives and bringing a nation to its knees." Shibashi warns that the recent 6.8 magnitude shock exceeded the design capabilities of the Kashiwazaki nuke by a factor of three. A Kobe University research team is reported as saying that if the quake had been 10km further to the southwest, a "terrible, terrible disaster" would have resulted.

Prof. Mitsuhei Murata of Tokai Gakuen University is quoted as warning that a quake at the Hamaoka nuke could bring "24 million victims and the end for Japan." Japan’s earthquake experts assume the probability of an 8.0 quake within the next 30 years to be 87 percent.

As in the US, Tokyo Electric has long denied that its seven Kashiwazaki reactors were sited atop a fault line, only to have it turn out to be true. As at Three Mile Island, vital data has already disappeared from the Kashiwazaki disaster, and the exact quantities of radiation released are unknown. Radiation at both sites escaped well after the reactors were shut down.

As in the United States, Japanese earthquake experts have warned since the 1960s about the dangers of reactor construction, only to be ignored and "discredited."

Undoubtedly the Japanese PR nuke spinsters will continue to attack and ignore them.

Here, 2400 central Pennsylvania families will still be denied a federal trial on the death, disease and mayhem spewed upon them by Three Mile Island nearly thirty years ago. And the seven dead Challenger astronauts are not available for comment on the "perfectly safe" O-rings that killed them just prior to the "non-credible" earthquake that struck the Perry nuke.

Any possible problems with a new generation of reactors are equally non-credible. Just ask a flack.

HARVEY WASSERMAN helped co-ordinate media for the Clamshell Alliance, 1976-8. He was arrested at Diablo Canyon in 1984 and at Seabrook in 1989. He is author of "Solartopia: Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030," He can be reached at: Windhw@aol.com


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